Category Archives: Sustainable Development

Mark this renewable day in your diary and celebrate

by Russell Jones ~ Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric

Russell Jones asks whether a whole day of electricity produced without burning a single lump of coal spells out the end of an era for the nation.

Last Friday, 21st April 2017 was a very special day for the UK as the country generated a whole day of electricity without needing to use coal-fired power stations.

This landmark moment is the first working day in since 1882, when the first public coal-fired generating plant opened in London when no coal has been needed to help supply power to the nation – as reported by many news outlets such as the BBC and the Financial Times.

Whilst low demand for electricity in the week after the Easter holiday is quite normal and Friday’s are the day of the working week with the lowest power demand, this move away from what has been a bedrock of the UK’s energy production since the start of the industrial revolution is a real achievement.

This shows how the nation’s energy system is changing to embrace low-carbon electricity production through the use of nuclear, solar panels, wind turbines and a switch from coal to biomass and gas-powered stations.

In 2016, the government reported that it was working to phase out the last coal plants by 2025 in an effort to cut overall carbon emissions.

As we move towards low carbon power generation, renewable technologies such as air source heat pumps become even more viable and attractive.

So it looks like we are really starting to see a greening of the electricity grid which is tremendous news for renewable technologies such as heat pumps, which consume electricity but use it to maximise renewable heating for our homes.

Earlier this year, we produced an infographic looking at the history of home heating so I’m delighted to see that we are starting to enter the last phase of that and set the scene for a low-carbon power generating grid, feeding low-carbon heating systems – all of which will help minimise energy bills for homeowners and aid the country as we strive to meet stringent carbon reduction targets.

We look forward to discussing this more on The Hub over the next few years as we strive to move towards a truly zero-carbon society.

At Mitsubishi Electric, we also love to discuss this topic over on our Green Gateway Twitter page, so please join the conversation.

Russell Jones is PR & Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK.

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

H+H and SIG Offsite collaboration helps meet housing demand

Celcon Elements

In a unique collaboration, H+H UK Ltd and SIG Offsite have worked together to create the SIG I-House – an innovative housebuilding system incorporating Celcon Elements from H+H. 

The SIG I-House provides all the speed of offsite construction with the familiarity of a traditional build, from foundations to roof in just five days.

The system can encompass the inner leaves of external cavity walls, floors, lintel, cavity closers, insulation and roof trusses. With the inclusion of soffit and fascia, the system delivers the internal skin of a property, fully wrapped and ready for follow-on trades.

Created at a time when there is a demand to increase the volume of house building and when skilled workers are in short supply, the system is a one stop shop for clients – with a single contractor required to deliver the whole house shell.

The system is intended for the construction of domestic houses of up to two storey height, replacing the structure of the inner leaf of external cavity walls, separating walls and internal partitions with storey height Celcon Elements.

Installed by the SIG Offsite team, Celcon Elements are craned into place and fixed using H+H element mortar.  Timber I-Joist cassette floors are used in conjunction with the system to maintain the speed of build and roofs are either standard truss construction or the ‘Roofspace I-Roof’ – panelised roof system.  All components are raised into position by crane.

Celcon Elements are manufactured from the same intrinsic material as aircrete blocks and have the same performance advantages including excellent thermal performance with reduced heat loss at thermal bridges.

https://www.hhcelcon.co.uk

The history of home heating and the rise of renewables

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

We’re all users of a home, whether we own it, rent it, or just occupy it and ensuring we have a comfortable and warm home environment is now seen as an expectation of modern life.

But it hasn’t always been possible to take a warm home for granted and things haven’t always been as easy as they are today.

Since the days when early man first discovered fire and used it to keep the ‘cave’ warm and the wolves from the door, we have found ways to refine how we use that flame.

From the wood-burning days through to the industrialisation of the Victorian age and the introduction of coal, lighting a fire has been the main source of heat for the home.

renewable energy

Until the turn of the 20th Century therefore, this open flame in a home wasn’t just for aesthetics – or to make you feel Hygge it was the only option available and for those petticoat wearing Victorian women, the hazard of accidental death from fire was a very real threat.

In the 1930’s, we started to see the introduction of electric forms of heating, and the introduction of a gas network from the 1950’s and 60’s, saw this fuel start to dominate the world of domestic heating.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

However, it wasn’t until the 1970’s and 80’s that we started to see an increase in central heating, predominantly using gas boilers and this still remains the standard for most.

But a reliance on fossil fuels; gas, coal and oil will soon need to become history because as we all know, we cannot continue like this.

So what does the future of our home heating and hot water look like?

As a heat pump manufacturer, you would expect us to promote air source systems but we are not the only ones saying it – The UK government has already recognised that heat pumps have a major role to play in keeping our homes warm and cosy well into the future.

By extracting and harvesting ‘free’ heat energy from the outdoor air, heat pumps are recognised as renewable and qualify for government incentives in the form of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

This is designed to offset the slightly higher capital costs of investing in renewables and is starting to have a significant impact on the traditional heating market as more people accept that they have to play their part.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub
Heat pumps are suitable from a variety of homes including pre-1930s, 1930-2010, 2010 – present and new build / self build properties.

At the moment, this is also taking the form of adding a heat pump to an existing heating system but as pressure on new housebuilders grows to clearly demonstrate they are delivering sustainable homes for the future, the government fully expects heat pumps to become the norm for home heating.

The other important factor to consider is that as the nation ‘greens’ production of energy with the increased use of wind, solar and even tidal energy production, then heat pumps become even greener.

Mitsubishi Electric - The Hub

So, the history of home heating has been an interesting journey so far but has relied predominantly on burning something to produce heat – a large part of which is often wasted up a chimney or flue.

In reality though, it’s quite scary to see how slow things have changed. It’s only now that the clock to a low carbon future really is ticking so we have to pull together to ensure we pick up the pace and move with the times.

https://thehub.mitsubishielectric.co.uk

The environmental lessons to be learnt from Dr Seuss

Article by Ellina Webb ~ Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

To celebrate International Children’s Book Day it only seems appropriate to talk about a book with an overarching environmental theme.

The book in question is The Lorax by Dr Seuss which tells the story of the effects of pollution, deforestation and climate change after the forest of “Truffula trees” is chopped down.

Dr Seuss was a writer who was frequently inspired by political topics like the environmental movement, which allowed him to channel his negativity into magical and meaningful children’s literature – such as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who and Oh! The Places You Will Go.

To some his underlying use of political themes might be viewed as controversial, especially in children’s storybooks, but as an adult reflecting on this story – which was a must-read of my primary school curriculum, the environmental messages are certain…and scary. Nevertheless, I’m glad that these books have subtly informed me and taught me that even though the world is full of issues, if you care, you can help to make them better.

To start, I’m going to give you a quick summary of the story:

A boy living in a polluted area of town seeks to discover what happened to the Lorax. To discover this he visits a man called Once-ler in the place where the “Grickle –grass grows”. While visiting Once-ler he hears the sad story of how Once-ler chopped down all the Truffula trees to fund his manufacturing business, destroying the home of the animals and polluting the air and water. This in turn drove the Lorax away and the Once-ler now lives alone and with deep regret of his selfish actions.

Re–reading the short story of the Lorax which was published in 1971, it’s clear what the important themes are that Dr Seuss has focused on and it’s sad that over 40 years later (and well over 20 years after the death of Theodor Seuss Geisel) these themes are still major issues that we face today.

So what are the themes and how are they still relevant today?

Deforestation

The major catalyst to the Lorax leaving was the cutting down of all the trees. The Lorax speaks for the trees “for the trees have no tongues” and unfortunately all his speaking did could not save them – especially as the innovation in Once-ler’s axe technology quadrupled his turnover of tree harvesting!

In real life and in today’s terms, deforestation is devastating to our planet and at the current rate of deforestation the world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years. The most common reasons behind deforestation are agriculture, logging and urban sprawl. The biggest impact deforestation has is on the 80% of the earth’s animals and plants that live there. While for climate change, no trees means dryer soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses.

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Deforestation is a primary threat to animals like the Orangutan

Poor respect for the environment

If you work for a large corporation, the term Corporate Social Responsibility might be something you have heard quite a lot about.  Respecting the environment from a business level has thankfully become quite important in the past few years, but for the average individual, is respecting the environment still a challenge that we need educating on? In 2015 The Telegraph reported on a government survey that showed how only 18% of Britons are “very concerned” about climate change. So does that show that they have no driver behind pro-activity respecting the environment – like Once-ler?

It’s a question we ask ourselves over on our Green Gateway Twitter page (@green_gateway) so feel free to discuss your thoughts with us on there.

The importance of plants

As previously mentioned, less trees means drier soils and less absorption of greenhouse gasses. But on an everyday scale, trees and plants are so much more than that. Plants, like in the story of the Lorax, provide shelter, food, oxygen and water purification. Without the Truffula trees the pollution from Once-ler’s factory destroys the quality of the air and the water, changing the landscape and driving the animals away. Beyond this, plants also provide medicine and store carbon dioxide, helping us reduce the impact of other environmental threats like the burning of fossil fuels.

The impact of pollution

Aside from the physical impact of pollution, the Lorax touches on the impact of pollution from over manufacturing “your machine chugs on, day and night without stop, making gluppity-glupp. Also schloppity-schlopp”. According to Conserve Energy Future, any form of pollution can be traced back to industrial practices. This can be seen in countries that face a rapid growth of industry. The contamination and effects of this are so vast that they would require an article in themselves to do them justice. But if Dr Seuss’ exploration of this theme is something you want to delve into further, the more in-depth Lorax film from 2012 is definitely worth watching.

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Industrial pollution
Industrial waste is a large contributor to global pollution

So relating this back to International Children’s Book Day, I hope you appreciate why The Lorax is not just an enchantingly poetic story. It is also worthy of being in the realm of children’s classics, like his other work: Oh! The Places You Will Go, this has deep and touching meaning that will leave children and adults alike questioning their impact in the world we live in today.

Ellina Webb is a Marketing Specialist at Mitsubishi Electric

If you have any questions about this article or want to know more, please email us. We will contact the author and will get back to you as soon as we can.

Timber Structure low consumption house in Wadebridge, Cornwall.

Innes Architects

We love to use Timber to make our buildings, for its structural abilities, its low carbon footprint, aand the dizzying array of cladding opportunities it provides. We believe wood is a truly inspiring material.

We have been advocating the use of timber in construction for many years now. And our principal architect Mark has recently completed his own house using timber as an intergal component of almost all parts of the construction. The house is situated in Wadebridge, Cornwall and is designed on passivhaus principles, utilising wood for many reasons and in many ways, inside and out. From the structure and the window frames to the finished walls, timber construction can take a myriad of forms. Even the Warmcel insulation is timber via the circuitous route of wood-pulp to paper to recycling. To know more about this project have a look at our website.

img_4601 View from the first floor.

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London’s Riverwalk incorporates Passivhaus standard Schöck Isokorb

On the north side of the Thames in central London, the three riverside embankments, Chelsea, Victoria and Albert, are the result of extensive civil engineering works that reclaimed marshy land, narrowed the width of the river and provided a large-scale new area of development during the late 19th century.    Today almost 150 years later, much of the area is once again being transformed as the result of a scheme designed to replace many of the outdated buildings which have characterised these areas for so long. There will be high specification property construction, promenades and parks; and at Millbank, one of the major residential riverfront developments is Riverwalk.

Passivhaus standard Schöck Isokorb

Riverwalk features two organically shaped buildings of seven and seventeen storeys, connected by a central podium and incorporating 116 high specification one, two, three and four bedroom apartments, plus penthouses. The design focus is on light, space, service and exceptional views across the Thames.   Aesthetically the buildings are enhanced by horizontal bands of limestone on the curving facades between the glazing and ceramic panels, with the stonework wrapping around the lower parts of the balconies to create a continuous organic shape.

The avoidance of thermal bridging is critical

With such a high specification development, early consideration was given to the avoidance of the thermal bridging at the critical balcony connections. Thermal bridges would result in higher heat transfer through the assembly and colder surface temperatures on the warm side of the assembly.

Some of the consequences of this being higher energy use for heating and cooling, non-compliance with UK Building Regulations, potential building structure corrosion and the risk of mould growth and associated health concerns from respiratory problems. To help minimise any risk of thermal bridging, the structural thermal break module specified throughout the Riverwalk development is the latest generation Schöck Isokorb for concrete-to-concrete applications, the type KXT.

Isokorb type KXT

This latest example of Schöck engineering means even better performance, which is critical in meeting the inceasingly stringent EU guidelines and the imminent need for nearly zero-energy building standards. The Schöck Isokorb type KXT pushes the technical boundaries in meeting these demands.

In addition, through close collaboration with its clients, Schöck has also now optimised the load capacity of the Isokorb range. As a result, the load capacities most frequently in demand have been identified and appropriate refinements applied to the product portfolio.   The range now provides planners with not only a structurally optimised product solution for the construction of cantilevered components, but cost advantages as well.

Schöck Isokorb

Verifiable performance values

The product offers such a high level of insulation, that in Germany the Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt has awarded the product with the low ‘thermal bridge construction‘ certificate and confirmed its suitability even for Passivhaus construction. The product has also just been awarded the very latest BBA certification.   All units meet full compliance with the relevant UK building regulations, which require that the temperature factor used to indicate condensation risk (fRSI) must be greater than or equal to 0.75 for residential buildings. The range also provides Local Authority Building Control Registration and there is compliance too with the UK government Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP 2012) concerning CO2 emissions from buildings and respectively heat losses through non-repeating thermal bridges.

Here, the lambda values of the Schöck Isokorb enable energy loss in various connective situations to be reduced by as much as 84% to 91%.

For a free copy of the Schöck Thermal Bridging Guide and / or the Thermal Bridging Solutions brochure – contact the company on 01865 290 890 or visit www.schoeck.co.uk

Sustainable Building Designs Take Over

Danny Phelan, National Sales Manager at Panel Systems, looks at how building designers and architects are using innovative cladding materials, such as timber, to create modern and environmentally sustainable building designs.

 “There have been great leaps forward made in green building techniques over the past decade and, as a result, we have seen building product manufacturers adapt to develop innovative and sustainable new products to meet demand.

timber cladding

In 2013, it was reported that around 28 per cent of architects, engineers, contractors, building owners and building consultants around the world were focusing construction work upon sustainable building design. The UK specifically has embraced the idea of sustainable construction, with UK developers expecting to complete at least 60 per cent of their construction projects using green materials by 2018. The top developments which plan to do this include:

·     New low-rise residential (40%)

·     Retrofits (44%)

·     New institutional buildings (37%)

The increase in production of green building developments within the UK is leading to a rise in demand for construction materials that require much less energy to process, such as timber. The exterior of these buildings plays a major part in making them attractive whilst still achieving the energy efficiency ratings required, therefore the choice of cladding material is very important.

Materials like timber are now more popular than ever with building designers and architects and a growing number of timber clad buildings can be seen within our towns and cities. With naturally appealing tones and the ability to reduce the overall carbon footprint of any development, Timber is favoured in order to create aesthetically pleasing building designs that achieve a green status. Modern timber clad panels are regularly used on a range of construction projects and can be pre-fabricated to incorporate insulation which enhances the thermal properties of a building.

As a very strong and renewable source, timber is 100 per cent recyclable meaning that it can be re-used at the end of its life. Aside from timber’s desired sustainable properties, its visual appeal helps architects and building designers achieve a finish that can help a building to complement its surroundings.

timber cladding

This was one of the many reasons why timber clad panels were chosen for a recent new build project in Glasgow. The £15m Eastwood Health Centre project serves the Eastwood area of East Renfrewshire and houses five existing GP practices and community health and care services. For this project, we supplied over 140m2 of Aluminium insulated panels which were clad with Siberian Larch to the front face. The timber facing was also given a special fire retardant coating, for added safety. In order to meet the intricate shape requirements of the insulation and panel, the core was carefully fabricated using 3 and 5-axis CNC equipment, meeting the architect’s design aspiration’s and ensuring the panels could be easily installed on site. 

The centre now sets the standard for affordable, quality and sustainable healthcare facilities across Scotland.

As the popularity of timber cladding increases, we continue to invest in our fabrication facilities to ensure we can meet market demand and provide architects and building designers with innovative cladding materials.”

For more information, visit the website www.panelsystems.co.uk call direct on: 0114 275 2881 or email sales@panelsystems.co.uk.

 

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